Why Tampa General placed its bets on smart room technology

The organization is looking for ways to address clinician burnout and enhance patient experience through digital transformation.

A July 2023 study published in JAMA Health Forum revealed that 47 percent of nurses and 32 percent of physicians reported experiencing high burnout, and a staggering 50 percent of those surveyed said they weren’t certain that their patients can safely manage their care after discharge, highlighting challenges facing discharge planning.

Physicians and nurses “want improved staffing, modern working conditions in which they can spend more time in direct patient care, greater control over their workloads and schedules, and a higher priority on patient safety,” explains Linda Aiken, professor of nursing and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, in responding to the research.

Tampa General Hospital (TGH), a world leader in comprehensive care for more than 4 million patients in west central Florida, is accelerating innovation to improve the lives of patients as well as their employees. To pursue its vision for patient safety, TGH has made its investment in smart room technology a priority.

To date, TGH has implemented this technology across more than 1,000 hospital beds, which includes integration with their electronic medical records system as well as patient education and real-time location services. Amit Patel, TGH’s CNIO and senior director of Informatics, and Jeff Fallon, chairman and CEO of eVideon, recently discussed considerations leaders need to know to accelerate digital transformation.

Align the right stakeholders

Patel: Our president and CEO, John Couris, and the senior leadership team at TGH have done a great job over the last few years in setting a strategic vision. Additionally, they’ve provided the proper tools to the frontline team members as well as manager and director level employees to really execute on those plans. These tools keep our teams highly engaged and, in turn, benefit our patients. Without the proper stakeholders at the table, including support from the C-suite, it would be impossible for us to innovate and achieve our goals.

Fallon: Involving nurses and other frontline workers in the technology design and implementation process is absolutely critical to creating an optimal care experience for both patients and care teams.  They are the key stakeholders, and it is vital for smart room technology to enhance nursing efficiency as well as overall staff satisfaction by enabling nurses to work at a higher level of their clinical authority.  

Cultures of clinician well-being, health equity

Patel: We seek to operate in accordance with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s 2007 Triple Aim — improved patient experience, better outcomes and lower costs — which was followed up by the Quadruple Aim in 2014 with a focus on clinician well-being and the Quintuple Aim in 2021, which includes health equity. While each of these aims are important, the last two are especially so because they represent two of the great challenges our health community faces every day – clinician burnout and social determinants of health.

At TGH, we often ask ourselves, “How do we complement the clinicians and enable them to be more efficient? And how do we connect that work to the patients?” Thanks to the technology available, we have been able to decrease the burden on nursing by designing the technology as a complement for the end user. Technology really should just be a byproduct of workflow, so clinicians can focus on the patient and the quality of care that they are providing to that patient.

Virtual care is another way we are supporting our nursing staff and advancing our strategic goals. We are currently piloting virtual nursing in one of our ICUs and, so far, we are seeing this as a great tool for both patient experience and team member satisfaction. For a bedside nurse who may be early in their career, this program provides direct access to an experienced team member or a mentor who can support them when needed. I also see the benefit in efficiency gains and the potential to really help our throughput. We are a very occupied hospital and always busy. This type of innovation keeps us moving forward.

Fallon: Disparity in patient-facing information is a primary but solvable challenge in healthcare. It is up to us as healthcare leaders to democratize the information we have available and ensure that everyone has equal access to the right information at the right time. This is a cornerstone of the work we are doing and something I see TGH deploying as well in their own adoption of smart room technology.

Access to information in the patient’s primary language seems to be an obvious first step in ensuring people can understand what is happening around them. We want to ensure that regardless of what personal devices the patients walk into the hospital with, whether it is an iPhone, Android, laptop or nothing at all, they have a high-quality, engaging experience in their native tongue.

The importance of validation

Patel: My final but most important recommendation is to test and validate as much as you can for whatever solution you’re considering. We are building a test lab in our cafeteria, a high-traffic area of the campus, where patients, team members and visitors will be able to see and interact with these new innovations. This is a true test lab of real-life simulation, and it is vital because, unlike a PowerPoint or video walking through the technology, this is something that our end users can actually experience. Introducing modern technology can be costly and often invasive. We are a hospital with more than 1,000 beds, so we need to feel confident in our decision before rolling something out. We are grateful to be able to invite such a broad range of stakeholders to participate in our innovation process.

Amit Patel, BSN, MSN, is the chief nursing information officer for for Tampa General Hospital. Jeff Fallon is CEO of Vibe Health by eVideon.

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